Northern Iowan

Panthers drop two, look towards MVC tourney

JACOB POTTER, Sports Writer

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From an Ali Farokhmanesh three to a Paul Jesperson half-court heave, all it takes is a little magic to ignite a historic run.

The UNI men’s basketball squad was looking for just that against Loyola-Chicago and Indiana State to finish the season out strong.

A raucous crowd filed into the McLeod Center Wednesday night to witness a highly competitive, defensive game between Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) rivals, Loyola and UNI.

The final home game of the season presented a fierce battle against Loyola with UNI losing by just one point, followed by a 17-point loss to Indiana State, finishing the season 14-17.

“I thought Northern Iowa’s atmosphere was awesome here. I thought their fans were into it, and both teams were not relenting any inch,” said Loyola Head Coach Porter Moser.

The Panthers fell 56-55 as what would have been A.J. Green’s game-winning mid-range shot attempt bounced off the top of the rim.

“We’ll take that shot every time. If we get that shot to win the game every night that we play, we’re taking it,” said UNI Head Coach Ben Jacobson following the match-up.

Several key rebounds by Loyola down the stretch gave them the late advantage.

“A couple of rebounds we probably wanted back there offensively that we gave up on the offensive end to them, but other than that it was a complete battle,”senior guard Wyatt Lohaus said.

“They made a couple of key plays, and you give them credit for that,” Jacobson added.

Freshman point guard AJ Green led the Panthers in scoring with 18 points, hitting four crucial threes.

“What a tremendous performance by him, and once he started, everybody jumped in,” Jacobson said.

Isaiah Brown and Wyatt Lohaus added 13 and 10 points, respectively.

In the final regular season game, UNI traveled to Terre Haute, Indiana to take on the Indiana State Sycamores Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers struggled, shooting a dismal 25 percent from three, ultimately dropping the final contest of the season 71-54.

Spencer Haldeman led the purple and gold in scoring, racking up 16 points followed by AJ Green with 10 points and six rebounds.

Despite dropping their last two, UNI proved that they can compete with the best in the conference, seeing the MVC Tournament on the horizon.

“It just shows what we’re capable of,” junior forward Isaiah Brown said. “We know what each other can do, we know we’re a good team and I mean now’s the perfect time for us to start clicking and just staying together. Like you said, we’re about to go to St. Louis and we’re looking to win a championship down there.”

Ranked sixth in the conference heading into the tournament, UNI is set to play third-ranked Southern Illinois on Friday, March 8. The Salukis are undefeated against UNI on the season.

The purple and gold will need to win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in order to receive a coveted bid to the NCAA Tournament.

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Panthers drop two, look towards MVC tourney